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Ask a Vet: Be proactive and control moisture in pet’s ears

POSTED: May 4, 2014 1:00 a.m.

You know how good it sounds when you’re in the shower in the morning, singing One Direction?

No? Just me? OK.

Anyway, the reason it sounds better than in the basement is your shower acts like an ear canal for focusing and reflecting sound waves. So sounds bounce back and you and somehow your brain convinces you that you could be in a boy band if only you had the right hair.

Sounds aside, your shower and bathroom are very similar to your pet’s ear canal in another important way.

Have you ever seen a bathroom that doesn’t get good ventilation? Or a shower curtain left folded up after being wet?

The added moisture in the room allows the microscopic fungal spores all around us to grow, causing mildew.

This is shockingly similar to the mechanism for development of yeast problems in your pet’s ears. It’s already dark and warm inside the head. Add a little extra moisture and you have the perfect recipe for a microbiology lab.

The tiny amount of normally benign bacteria and yeast populating the surface of most skin, including the ear canal, get a chance to grow at an abnormally high rate.

Then the benign becomes problematic.

Many of my clients are surprised to learn it’s rarely exposure to some nefarious invading organism that causes “ear infections.”

I say that in quotations because it’s really more overgrowth of a normal inhabitant. It is akin to athlete’s foot as opposed to scarlet fever.

The implication of this is simple. You have three risk factors for ear problems, but you can’t control two of them — light exposure or temperature deep in the canal.

So your only option is controlling moisture.

Most ear rinses work in two ways: breaking up debris and wax and drying out the canal.

If your pet is predisposed to ear problems, a routine rinse may be warranted. If that still doesn’t do the trick, see your veterinarian.

Ideally, the worst thing going on in your pet’s ears should be a falsetto rendition of a pop song.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.


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